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Traditionally a farming and fishing nation (60% of the population earned their living as farmers in 1930, but only 8% did so in 2000), Finland began to diversify after World War II ended in 1945. The main crops farmed nowadays are rye, oats, and barley, but vast strawberry plantations and new agricultural industries compete with the more traditional forms. The fur and pelt industry is an important, though controversial, sector of Finnish agriculture and so is fish farming. The forestry industry is still of immense importance to Finland with timber, paper, and pulp accounting for 28.7% of exports, but the electronics and high-tech industries (with Nokia as the Finnish flagship company) have become equally important in terms of their business turnover (27.9% of all exports). Finland is also one of the world's leading manufacturers of paper machines. The furniture, glass, and ceramics industries, although smaller in terms of export earnings than the above industries, enjoy a high reputation worldwide. The chemical industry, largely through Kemira, a company originally set up by the government, is involved in the production of fertilizers and paints, while Neste refines oil and distributes natural gas. Finnish metal industries have a long tradition (e.g., shipbuilding began in Turku and Helsinki in 1737 and 1865, respectively), but even now some of the best cruise vessels or icebreakers are still being constructed in Finnish shipyards. The Aland Islands have traditionally relied on cargo shipping for their livelihood. During the first half of the 20th century, the province became world famous for its sailing ship fleet—bought second hand at a time when foreign shipowners were making the transition to steam. Today, merchant shipping remains the main source of income for the islands.

Finland has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for enthusiasts of cross-country skiing, snow-boarding, hiking, and fishing. A special tourist attraction is the Santapark near Rovaniemi with Father Christmas, reindeers, a toy workshop, and other sights. There are more than 200,000 reindeer in Lapland and the annual roundup also attracts scores of visitors. Surprisingly, the 50,000 elk hunted yearly yield more meat than the reindeer. For about 300,000 Finns, hunting is a hobby, but even more engage in sport fishing. Despite its many lakes, Finland obtains only 4% of its energy from hydroelectric sources; 28% of Finland's energy requirements are covered by imported oil and 18% come from nuclear power plants. Local peat provides 6% of the energy needs of the country. In the year 2000, approximately 9% of the Finnish workforce were unemployed, but were housed, fed, and looked after through the Finnish social welfare program. Of the 2.5 million or so people employed, 66% worked in various service industries (including health, financial, transport, and communication services), 22.8% in industries like consumer goods, manufactured items, forest products, metal and engineering products, and 6% each in agricultural and construction industries.

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